This article is part of the “How Healthy am I?” series, where I test myself in various ways to check exactly what results “Healthy Living” produces! Hope you enjoy…
Yup, that’s my arm. I didn’t even cry… much. :-)
Taking care of ourselves and being healthy isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun.
There are PLENTY of things we know we need to do, and life can just get in the way.
As a full-time traveler, I don’t want to make excuses as to why I can’t be healthy and take care of myself just as well (if not better) than if I were staying in one place! I believe it can be done!
So it’s all well and good for me to say I’m a healthy traveler – how about some cold, hard numbers?
Enter my recent experiment…
After a few conversations and a bit of curiosity this summer, I decided to get my blood drawn and have a bunch of “labs” (tests) run.
The reason I did it is to have a baseline of information: yes, it’ll be nice to know what my stats are currently – but in 5, 10, 15 years, I’ll be able to see what the trends are, and if numbers are low or high.
While I do pay for health insurance (mainly a catastrophic policy), I don’t have or see a regular doctor. So how does this happen?
Big revelation for me: DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS ARE UNNECESSARY!
Whether it’s Dr. Nick or Dr. House, you can skip them completely!
I did happen to meet a doc in Portland who helped me get some of my tests, but there’s another way you can go about this – that’s much easier, much faster, and much cheaper!
With the cost and complexity of healthcare always rising in the US, it’s fun to know there are still ways around this: ways to save money and still have the information we need!
Take that medical costs! :-)
Here I am in Eugene, pre-tests (with quite the “mountain man” look…)
How did I get this done?
For the first set of tests, I worked with a naturopath, who drew the blood, ordered the labs, and emailed me the results. In this case, I paid his office, who was billed by the lab.
For the second set, I used DirectLabs – an online, third-party company that allows you to save LOTS of $$$ ordering tests and the process is QUICK, SIMPLE, and EASY! (no affiliate link – I just loved the process!)
I was hanging out in Cottage Grove, Oregon (house- and dog-sitting), and decided to give this a shot: I pulled up the site, ordered my tests, headed into nearby Eugene, and 2 days later, had the results! Pretty awesome!
With DirectLabs, I ordered the Cholesterol test online for only $19 (it was a “sale” – normally $29 on their site or ~ $95 if you ordered from a lab directly) – that’s 80% off!
I went to a LabCorp office in Eugene, Oregon (there are centers located around the country), brought the printed requisition form that I received via email from DirectLabs, waited about 10 minutes total (including time for the blood withdrawal), and then received the results via email within 48 hours!
They have TONS of tests available, and they make the process of finding out more about YOUR health super easy!
There are certainly other services you can use, including LabsDirect (not to be confused with DirectLabs!). I’d look for how professional the site is, the prices, and the ease of getting tested (locations in your area). Be a smart shopper!
Quick side note: when the LabCorp tech was drawing blood, she didn’t believe I was 30 – she thought I was in college! Guess I do look pretty healthy! :-)
Getting the blood drawn… (nothing too graphic here – I don’t think you’ll pass out)
The Tests Ordered
- CBC (Complete Blood Count) with Differential/Platelet: panel of tests with the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells,white blood cells, and platelets
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: 14 tests with the status of kidneys, liver, and electrolyte and fluid balance
- Folate (Folic Acid), Serum: amount of B9 vitamin in the blood
- Ferritin, Serum: body’s total iron storage capacity
- Iron and TIBC: blood’s capacity to bind iron with transferrin
- Lipid Panel with Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides
- Testosterone, Serum: amount of testosterone
- TSH: measures thyroid-stimulating hormone
- Vitamin B12: assists brain, nervous system and formation of blood
- Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy: the “sunshine vitamin”
This is a good group of tests (for men) if you’re generally healthy and want to go for that “baseline” approach: you just want to know where you stand. For women, you might not need to order Testosterone. :-)
Do some research online – many of these third-party sites have recommendations for men and women.
The Lab Results
NOTE: the “healthy range” figures below are calculated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are often based on sex and age. You’d need to contact your doctor or the lab to find out more specific background information, and for how many years those numbers are applicable to you.
Check out “Reference Ranges and What They Mean” for more about this topic.
Some of my results:
Total Cholesterol: 117 mg/dL
- Healthy Range: 100-199
HDL Cholesterol (Good Kind): 48 mg/dL
- Healthy Range: > 39 (and > 59 lowers the risk for Coronary Heart Disease)
LDL Cholesterol (Bad Kind): 60 mg/dL
- Healthy Range: 0-99
Ferritin: 82 ng/mL
- Healthy Range: 30-400
Folate (Folic Acid): 17.4 ng/mL
- Healthy Range: >3.0
Glucose, Serum: 87 mg/dL
- Healthy Range: 65-99
Testosterone: 405 ng/mL
- Healthy Range: 249-836
TSH: 2.84 uIU/mL
- Healthy Range: .45-4.50
Vitamin B12: 284 pg/mL
- Healthy Range: 211-946
Vitamin D: 50.9 ng/mL
- Healthy Range: 32-100
White Blood Count (WBC): 6.6 x10E3/uL
- Healthy Range: 4.0-10.5
Red Blood Count (RBC): 5.58 x10E6/uL
- Healthy Range: 4.10-5.60
Am I Healthy? Yes!
More accurately: I’m pretty normal. :-)
Click images above for PDFs of the results.
For just about all the numbers, I’m within the healthy range (often right in the middle!), and even low (which is good) in a couple places.
I’m particularly thrilled with my cholesterol number (117, where 100 is the low end); you hear so many people talk about this (too high? too low? too many eggs?), and now I’m glad to know: I’m doing fine!
Could I get more direct sun exposure? You bet!
The only thing the first doc mentioned is to repeat the B12 test in a few years if I continue to eat mostly vegetables, which I do.
Want to know more about how to read and interpret the results?
You can always discuss these results with your doctor or medical provider, or DirectLabs even offers a doctor consultation.
Here are a few resources…
- Lab Tests Online
- Medicine Plus (from US National Library of Health and National Institute of Health)
You can always the test name or use Wikipedia to find out more information, too!
While it was definitely interesting to get all this done and provide a write-up, my desire to know really came from being absolutely clueless about my health numbers.
My hope is that this demonstrates how easily we can start tracking our own health!
No doctors, no insurance, no long waits: everything can happen online and in a couple days. Yes, it is that easy, and it should be that easy.
My other issue is that medical costs are clearly inflated and ridiculous: how can something that normally costs almost $100 be available on a regular basis for $29? Does that seem fair?
Reminds me of when I had my appendix out: the one-night hospital stay “cost” $40,000 (you read that right), and after insurance, the hospital accepted $4,000. Seriously?! Only 10% of the original cost! It just doesn’t make sense: either the stay costs $40K or $4K. No business could stay in business if they kept that up!
This only seems to be available to people who know where to look for it! So let’s share this info!
What do you think of third-party blood tests, medical costs, and taking personal responsibility for our health?
I’d love to hear your answer + any other comments you have below.
Until next time,
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